So much for ponderous legislation that’s too lengthy for lawmakers to read before voting. A new bill that would have sweeping consequences for every resident of the U.S., and in fact the world at large, contains just a single, all-important sentence.
The bill, sponsored by freshman Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, seeks to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As in, get rid of it entirely. Bing, bong, boom, poof… gone. Just like that! Who knew that destroying an entire bureaucracy could be so easy?
Never mind sweating the small stuff, like who would then be in charge of regulating air and water pollution, environmental enforcement, Superfund sites and more. (Forget, too, about referring to all the relevant sections of U.S. law where the EPA appears, since that would cause the bill to add many pages, let alone another sentence.)
With the EPA out of the way, presumably all environmental regulation would occur at the state level. To say the least, if the EPA is abolished, it would be a challenge to regulate pollutants like acid rain-causing sulfur dioxide and global warming-causing carbon dioxide which don’t fit neatly within state lines.
Not to mention, it would also be a tough task to pull off considering the paucity of state resources.
Here’s the entire bill:
“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.”
Is a screenshot more your thing? Here you go:
The bill has attracted three cosponsors so far, all of them Republicans: Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia.
Massie, who hails from a coal state, believes the agency has exceeded its authority, particularly in rules enacted under former President Barack Obama.
“The Constitution reserves lawmaking authority for the legislative branch, not unelected bureaucrats in the executive branch,” Massie said in a statement. “The EPA makes rules that undermine the voice of the American people and threaten jobs in Kentucky.” (Massie has also introduced a similarly terse bill to excise the Department of Education.)
In reality, this bill has little chance of becoming law.
The EPA was actually established by a Republican president, Richard Nixon, in 1970, and although the Trump administration has demonized it and targeted it for a wide range of changes, having clean air and water enjoys broad bipartisan support.
Therefore, simply getting rid of the agency is viewed by most, including the Trump administration, as a radical idea that is not worth pursuing. (And even if killing the EPA completely were to happen, the legislation would likely be a lot longer than one sentence in order to properly transfer its functions elsewhere.)
Instead, the Trump administration is aiming to do something different, although it too is quite controversial.
Trump’s EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt, has sued the federal agency multiple times over its regulations, including its landmark Clean Power Plan that cuts greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. If Pruitt is confirmed as expected, he is expected to chip away at the agency’s aggressive regulations enacted under the Obama administration, potentially avoiding the fate that Gaetz, Massey, Palazzo and Loudermilk have in mind.
Then again, if Trump’s approach fails, there’s always this one-line bill that some lucky congressperson can dust off the shelf and put forward in the next Congress…